Microscope with 50-nanometre Resolution Demonstrated
By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News
UK researchers have demonstrated the highest-resolution optical microscope ever - aided by tiny glass beads.
The microscope imaged objects down to just 50 billionths of a metre to yield a never-before-seen, direct glimpse into the "nanoscopic" world.
The team says the method could even be used to view individual viruses.
Their technique, reported in Nature Communications, makes use of "evanescent waves", emitted very near an object and usually lost altogether.
Instead, the beads gather the light and re-focus it, channelling it into a standard microscope.
This allowed researchers to see with their own eyes a level of detail that is normally restricted to indirect methods such as atomic force microscopy or scanning electron microscopy.